Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Search for Sanity: Part VIII

It has been a year and a half since I've posted about my migraines.  Something about having a baby got in the way of medical progress...

To review past posts look here.

I did go to see a new neurologist in Texas.  To put it kindly... I was not impressed.  He listened to a brief review of my 20+ year history and then lectured me on what migraine triggers were... Thank you sir, I know what they are, as I have a list of about 20 that affect me.  He put me on a beta-blocker which I took for a few months with no luck.

Then I got pregnant with Baby T and wasn't able to take anything but Tylenol and Midrin (a throwback to my childhood.  Midrin works okay, but is nowhere near as powerful as Imitrex, what I've been taking for the last 5+ years).  It was a long, long 9 months...

Since Will was born, my migraines have gotten more frequent and less predictable.  I rarely have auras anymore, which was previously, an excellent warning sign to take my medication & get to bed as soon as possible.  Additionally, I now have another human being to take care of, which have proved exceedingly difficult when all I want to do is sleep and cry in a dark room.

A recent renewal in my hope of a "cure" led me to Dr. Round, one of the best neurologists in Denver. Luckily, he was much more personable than the last neuro I saw.  We talked over my history, symptoms, all that fun stuff, and he recommended that I have an MRI done.  He's not expecting to find anything; it's more of a precautionary measure before we decide on a treatment plan.  The one thing I hope (and don't hope) might show up in my results is signs of a PFO, or a small congenital hole in the heart.  Studies have recently been done where repairing this hole in migraine sufferers has caused dramatic decreases in severity and frequency of migraines.  Of course, I don't really want there to be a hole in my heart... but right now, the concept of finding the "culprit" outweighs my fears of surgery, etc.

Dr. Round also told me that, assuming my MRI is normal, one of the best treatments that he has been recommending to patients is Botox.  Approved by the FDA only in the last year or two, Botox has shown to be extremely effective in preventing migraine pain.  So far, I fit the bill perfectly for Botox.  I'm pretty excited about this prospect, although Dr. Round said it is extremely expensive if not covered by insurance, (so fingers are crossed about that one).

As an endnote, I recently read Lucy Grealy's Autobiography of a Face.  It was an amazingly powerful memoir about beauty, pain, and healing written by a woman who, as a child, had half of her jaw removed due to cancer.  Although I'm aware that migraines and cancer are an apples to oranges comparison, I related to Grealy's thoughts about pain and trauma in a way I didn't expect.  After her cancer is gone, she has multiple surgeries that attempt to restore the structure of her face.  She talks about the expectations and hope that precede each surgery and then the inevitable disappointment and depression that follow each surgery and its failure to produce the results she was expecting.

I feel that way about my seemingly endless battle with migraines.  Over time, I have come to terms with the fact that migraines are a part of my life; this is my cross to bear and it is okay that I will never be rid of them.  I resist the thought that there might be a cure.

But eventually, I turn back to hope: hope in a new doctor, hope in a new medication, hope in alternative methods or diets.  I get excited about the possibility of living a new life; a life free of constant pain and often guilt for falling back into "pet" triggers.

But inevitably, the new doctor fails to listen, the new medication fails to make a difference, and I'm left disappointed and depressed, feeling naive for believing that things could be different.  And however irrational I know it is, I feel guilty for even wanting a life without migraines; for coveting a life that perhaps I wasn't meant to have.

Of course, most of the time I live somewhere in between these two extremes, attempting to hold on to hope while I remain content with my lot.  But I'm scared.  Scared of trusting in my current excitement about MRI's, PFO's and Botox; knowing that the painful letdown is all but too close.

My next appointment with Dr. Round is tomorrow morning.  I'll update soon.


Christina said...

Good luck tomorrow. I hope that someday you can live a pain free life, and I hope that it's sooner then later.

STAYC said...

Hey Kelsey - I suffer from migraines too - bad. I've had the option of taking a prescription daily as a preventative measure, but as I'm sure you know all to well - those prescriptions are spendy! I have a prescription that I have to take at the onset of my migraine (Maxalt) or else I feel screwed. Anyways, I have been doing Botox for the past year and it has helped TREMENDOUSLY. My migraines are certainly less severe and less frequent (enough to be worth it) and far more cost effective, for me. Good luck tomorrow!

Steve and Erin Larsen said...

Kelsey, I am SO sorry that you are having such a hard time. I didn't know it was this bad. My goodness! You are one tough, amazing cookie! I really hope this doctor can finally help you. You deserve to be healthy and happy! Don't give up trying to find help. Hang in there! I will pray for you.

With love,


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